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Archive for October, 2010

Boundaries

Everywhere I go, whether for a walk or a drive, I see the SIGNS that suggest boundaries. When a new property is about to be developed I watch the surveyors clarifying the property lines. When the actual building begins, chain link fences appear to keep away intruders. As a property matures, the fences change to white picket or sometimes a cedar hedge. Whether plant, wood, metal or simply where the grass meets the road, it is clear where the boundaries are.

Carefree Road - There's not time to be carefree when YES dominates our life.

If only it were so with you and I. So much of my coaching work of late has been in helping others establish their boundaries. It seems that the expectations of a busy world and juggling the many responsibilities that accompany the various roles you all take on, has bumped most of you off your priority list.

This is a question I ask audiences when I speak to them, “Where are you on your own priority list?” Ask yourself the question. Are you surprised to hear yourself say that, “I am not even on my own priority list or if I am, chances are I am at the bottom”. Why is this? As you take a look at this question you might also consider, what are the SIGNS showing up in your life, that suggest that getting back on your priority list and bumping yourself up the list may be important. I know the SIGNS are there. It might look like fatigue or a sense of disengagement. You no longer feel connected to what you are doing, asking yourself, what does it all mean? You might be spinning, going in many different directions at the same time without a sense of accomplishment. Whatever it is, it begs to be noticed and heeded.

In coaching the question that looms larger than most, is when will you start saying the most important two letter word in the English language, ‘NO’. You might respond that this is a sure way to end relationships, or if the ‘NO’ is used at work, a career limiting option. I challenge you to reconsider this and wonder if it is simply a boundary issue. YES is also an important word, but you want to be saying YES to the things in your life that are the most important, that make a difference for you and your relationships, that allow you to step into your own power. If you forget or hesitate to say ‘NO’ when NO is the right answer, you steal power from the YES’s that will really make a difference in your life. Of course the most important YES, if saying YES to yourself.

Boundary work is, from my perspective as a coach, the journey of selfness. It requires a commitment to re-discover the true meaning in your life. Too often the coaching conversation begins with, “Everything in my life is perfect, at least on the surface yet I am not sure what it all means anymore!” The areas of your life which beg to be re-examined include your core values, that is, how you choose to live. This is followed by understanding what is really important to you in terms of how you want to make a difference and finally, re-visiting your gifts and strengths and how these are engaged in your work.

Many of these aspects of yourself have simply been buried of the daily ‘to do’s, should’s and have to’s’ of life. Once re-examined, they help you determine those important boundaries in your life and when ‘NO’ is important. For example, if you have a core value of integrity, and a co-worker or friend asks you to participate in something which is dishonest, ‘NO’ is the right answer. To say YES may appease the other person but you are cheating on yourself.

Back to the priority list of your life. You will not find your way onto this list unless you are willing to begin putting yourself first and to explore those important boundaries. I invite you to consider where you are on your priority list and where you want to be. Take the first step. Begin saying ‘NO’ to those requests you know are not yours to own, perform, or take on. Remember you are not saying NO to another person, you are saying YES to you.

Until Next Time…

Betty

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“Is it my age?” I wonder. As a newly minted 60 year old all I can think of these days is how important it is to be curious. Curious? Yes! About life, about what’s up for me in the next decade, about my work in the world and more. Life is, if you will, an endless series of question marks.

It's All Perfect!

It's All Perfect!

And it is all perfect for it makes me feel much more youthful, engaged and definitely enthusiastic about life. In fact I cannot imagine it any other way.

It has not always been this way, as when I was younger I was very big on control. It seems to me, as I look back, that curiosity and control are polar opposites. How can you be curious if you need to be in control? Curiosity requires that you step outside the usual boundaries of your life and take a look at things differently or examine things that are different. Well known self-help guru Wayne Dyer says that when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Back to control. It really is an illusion, don’t you think? I mean do we really think that we can control things outside of ourselves. YES WE DO and, if you are like me when I was less wise, I thought the tighter I held the reins on my life, the more I could control the world around me.

In my observations of people, I see the toll that control is taking. As one of my coaching clients shared with me today, control creates an air tight box around you. You become very cautious about how you live in the world, especially at work and in that caution, you begin to lose a sense of who you really are. The person who wears your cloths and your skin is simply a framework of the real you, like a skeleton without the flesh. When control looms large in your life, you fear losing it, which further magnifies the problem. What if someone experiences the real you, the person without the masks, the person who might be vulnerable, the authentic self? “Will I be judged”, you wonder? Isn’t it safer to wear that mask and control exactly how people know me? 

And this is only one example of how you engage control in your life. I had many strategies, for example, endless plans filled with work and life objectives, subtitled by an equally endless list of activities that would outline how these objectives would be achieved. These lists framed my days and I took great delight in ticking each item off the list. That’s not to say I don’t use lists today, as I do. But they are different, open ended, less focused on outcome, more focused on ‘what if…?’ And that’s where curiosity began.

You may not agree with me that curiosity is important, many don’t. If you do however, this is an opportunity to take your life back and begin to approach things differently. Where do you begin? Consider the question, “If I want to be in curiosity, what control am I choosing to release?” Now there’s a loaded question as that forces you to actually consider where in your life you are control seeking –  relationships, work, personal habits, you name it. Then you need to evaluate the risks involved with actually relaxing your standards, becoming more flexible and a little less of a perfectionist. Oh that!

I encourage you to see this conversation as a SIGN that it is time for you to relax a little, stretch your boundaries, and wonder about what lies outside that sphere of control you have been living in. Ask yourself how this is serving you. If it is not, you may be experiencing a sense of disillusionment with how your life is unfolding or you may find yourself daydreaming of escaping the place you are currently occupying. If any of these feelings are present for you at this time, know that the opportunity is here to shift gears, from control to curiosity.

Begin by simply wondering about the ‘what if’s’ of life:

  • What if I changes careers?
  • What if I started that art course I have been putting on the back burner?
  • What if I released the limiting beliefs I have about myself?
  • What if I stopped trying to be perfect?
  • What if I dropped all the masks I wear? 

You get the drift – it’s about starting with a question rather than starting with an answer. Answers are built on what you know and the way you have always done things. They are safe and they give you control. Questions invite in new solutions and ways of examining life and work. They may open up the unexpected and there is no assurance that this will be comfortable. And that is perfect, for questions encourage you to grow.

Is it time to shift from control to curious. I hope so. I hope you never grow up and that you retain the curiosity of the four year old who wants to know why. 

Until next time….                                                      

Betty

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Yesterday we (Jim and I) spent the day with a crew for the local cable network Cogeco filming the first five episodes of the roadSIGNS TV Show. I have for years imagined what it would be like to host a TV or radio show, essentially a coaching program, where viewers could pick up tips for their own journey of self-discovery. Okay – not Dr. Phil, no “How’s that working for you?”, and no soap operish psycho-babble, but down to earth conversation regarding the small things people face everyday. Perhaps this is unfair criticism of Dr. Phil – I used to like the show and his no-nonsense advice!

More about roadSIGNS – our intentions for the show were set around a number of themes:

– to model the difference between coaching versus counselling
– to offer people, who may find coaching inaccessible to them, the opportunity for a coaching conversation
– to help others see how truly unique they are and to have tools for stepping fully into their personal power, and of course
– to have some fun, as life is far too serious.

The crew from Cogeco were amazing, coaching us along, being patient with me when I flubbed the opening of the show numerous times, laughing with us as we fumbled through the first show. All in all the process was quite painless and I noticed that, by the time we got to the fifth show, the process truly flowed. Unlike many shows filmed by the crew, we also had a live studio audience with whom to interact with so thanks to Tracy, Emily, Ann and Janet, who patiently sat with us through six hours of taping.

By mid-October, the shows will begin airing. You can learn more at http://www.tvcogeco.com/cornwall/shows. And with this, I hold the intention that the shows make a difference, are viewed by many, are shared, and that before we know it, the roadSIGNS Show is the talk of the town. Not too much to ask, is it? I’ll keep you posted re: when the shows air.

I have been noticing that as I set my intentions to open doors to opportunities, most of which I am currently not aware of, that there are surprises. For example, I set an intention to grow our business, and what has appeared is several requests to train in our ME FIRST/roadSIGNS model. This definitely would grow our work yet I assumed, that growth meant me delivering more programs.

As I teach, when you ask for something, be prepared for it to show up in a form that is different from what you imagined and then, be curious and open to the possibility. That is where my journey is leading at the  moment and I have decided that my WORD for this time in my life is curiosity.

Until next time…

Betty

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